` The Tupper Lake, New York Bobbin Roughing Mill
Through reading Five Generations of Loom Builders (a monthly publication of Draper
Corporation) and the trips to Beebe River, New Hampshire, it was learned that Draper
maintained logging and roughing operations at Guilford, Maine, Woodford, Vermont and
Tupper Lake, New York.
Beebe River made 100,000 bobbins a day, necessitating more maple and bobbin
blanks. The plants in Woodford, and Guilford helped to fill this need.
In September 1945, Draper purchased from Emporium Forestry Co. 70,000 acres of
woodland in St. Laurence County, New York. Additionally it acquired a 60-acre tract in
Tupper Lake. On January 10, 1946 (according to an article in the Tupper Lake Free
Press and Tupper Lake Herald), Draper opened an office at 51 Park St. in Tupper Lake.
The purpose of the office was to create a management plan for sustained yield of the
forest. Assessments of the forest were undertaken to study growing stock and growth
rate such that yield could be increased instead of depleted.
In 1948 a 17,000 square foot, three story shaping plant, two-story office building, a
garage and 40’ x 80’ pond were built on McGlaughlin Avenue. Production was in full
swing by 1949. Employment was between 50-70 people through its existence.
Rock maple was harvested, sawn and shaped into bobbin blanks. The blanks were
then shipped to Beebe River at rate of one trailer truck full, per week (thank you,
Richard Mardin). In 1972, seen as a banner year, 12 million bobbin blanks were forecast.
Draper required softwood for loom shipping crates, which came from both Tupper Lake
and Beebe River. The crate sides were built and shipped to Hopedale for final assembly.
At some point, Draper Tupper Lake began making laminated wood components for the
July, 1978 saw the news that Draper Tupper Lake would be closing with all work be
moved to Beebe River. It seems that it did close in October.
In March 1988 while being demolished the entire facility burned.
Author’s note: Significant of the data enclosed is from the Tupper Lake Free
Press/Tupper Lake Herald archives. Bill Wright, January 2014.
The continuing research regarding Draper bobbins lead to the discovery of a book:
“Mostly Spruce and Hemlock” by Louis Simmons (1976) from which much of the following
text was copied.
Simmons wrote that the first floor of the 3 story manufacturing building was equipped
with conveyors on the first floor for waste disposal; a 7 foot Allis-Chalmers band mill,
edger, trimmer, doweling machine and other equipment on the main working floor and a
filing room on the third floor. The 40’ by 80'. pond was a hot pond heated with steam
from the boiler house, in which logs were thawed and washed before moving into the mill
for processing., and nearly 2,700 feet of railroad siding were included in the original
siding along with a powerful diesel locomotive crane with a 50 foot boom, for decking
logs in †he yard, hauling from yard to hot pond, and handling heavy packages of sorted
and graded lumber. This mill went into operation on December 22, 1948. The mills
lumber output averaged 3 to 4 million feet of lumber per year.
Though the focus of these writings is bobbin manufacturing, the plant also produced
other products. Laminated wood parts (undefined) for looms and furniture components
were manufactured. For a time (again undefined) Tupper Lake also produced billets for
Dates at this juncture are hard to find but a 15,000 square foot addition was built to
accommodate dimensioned hardwood products.
The Simmons book was published in 1976. At that time Tupper Lake employed 65
people, down from it’s peak of 85 in September of 1973 as the business recession
deepened. The plant closing was announced in July 1978.
A recent trip to Beebe River lead to the discovery that Richard Mardin (cited in Beebe
River article) traveled to Tupper Lake to transfer the machinery to Beebe River. Bill
Wright, June 2014
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Loom crate made with wood from Tupper Lake or Beebe River.